Top 10 Halloween Movies for School-Age Kids

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Halloween is a time for spooks and haunts, for tricks and treats, but also for great movies. There are many Halloween movies that are great for middle schoolers — depending on how easily frightened the child may be.

The following movies are all rated PG, except for some in the "Harry Potter" franchise, but all have scenes that are designed to be scary.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" DVD cover.

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In a world where each holiday has its own town, Jack Skellington embarks on a search for something more than the dreariness of his home Halloween Town. Inspired by his discovery of Christmas Town, Jack tries to bring a little Christmas spirit back home.

Some of the characters may be scary to very young children, but this musical voyage is familiar to a lot of young parents as a film that shaped their childhood. Tim Burton's beautiful animation and fun lyricism will take your attention from Halloween to Christmas and back again.

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The Harry Potter Series (2001-2011)

"Harry Potter" 8-film collection Blu-ray cover.

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The "Harry Potter" film series includes "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," "​Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," and so on.

Although a fantastically imaginative series of films based on J.K. Rowling's hit book series and great movies for Halloween, the fourth through eighth movies did get a PG-13 rating. While many parents see them as being perfect for middle school kids, some of the content does get frightening and downright heartbreaking. These films may not be suited for younger audiences. 

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Coraline (2009)

"Coraline" DVD cover.

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Although not a Burton feature, this film is directed by the same person who directed Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas." A unique animated movie in a realm all its own, "Coraline" is the perfect Halloween haunt movie for those who like a scare.

While the animation is brilliant and the story one-of-a-kind, both may be frightening, horrifying even, to young children. For older kids, however, the movie is a creepy cautionary tale about the perils of things that are too good to be true. 

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Corpse Bride (2005)

"Corpse Bride" DVD cover.

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Tim Burton combines wholesome comedy and creepy horror with this tale of a mild-mannered Victorian gentleman, Victor, who accidentally marries a mysterious corpse bride instead of his intended, Victoria.

Through fun songs and a strange cast of undead characters, Victor soon discovers that the Land of the Dead holds more fun than frights and begins to fall in love with his innocent bride. Meanwhile, Victoria has been drawn into a scam of a marriage and may not escape with her life.

This film is definitely worth the watch if you loved "The Nightmare Before Christmas." 

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Frankenweenie (2012)

"Frankenweenie" DVD cover.

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Another Tim Burton and Disney feature, "Frankenweenie" is a black and white stop-motion animated film that may lose the interest of very young viewers. It presents a touching and somewhat disturbing Frankenstein-style tale about a boy who uses science to bring his dog back to life. Lightly drawing on classic horror flicks, the film is sort of an homage to scary movies past as well as a thoughtful look at the friendship and depth of love between a boy and his dog.

Some scenes in the movie could be very scary for young children. Also, some kids may be disturbed by the idea of death and the sadness Victor feels when his dog is gone. I recommend this movie for kids 8 and up, but if you think your child might be sensitive to the subject matter, this one may be worth previewing first. The story does offer an opportunity to talk about death and how to deal with sad feelings when a pet is lost.

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The Haunted Mansion (2003)

"The Haunted Mansion" DVD cover.

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Eddie Murphy stars in this spooky, CGI effect-packed Disney film, based on the famous Disney World attraction. He plays Jerry, a workaholic real estate agent who interrupts his family's vacation to check out a remote mansion that's for sale. But soon he and his family are trapped in the haunted house, screaming for their lives.

Again, as this movie does have its share of jump-out-of-your-seat surprises, it may be too frightening for young audiences despite its PG rating. Sure to make the whole family laugh, this film is perfect for light Halloween tricks and treats. 

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Goosebumps (2016)

"Goosebumps" movie DVD cover.

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The popular R.L. Stine finally hit the big screen in the 2016 blockbuster "Goosebumps" starring Jack Black. This feature-length film follows Zach Cooper as he moves to a small town and finds a silver lining when he meets next door neighbor Hannah, the daughter of bestselling author Stine (played by Black).

Stine is very strange and mysterious, but for good reason. He is a prisoner of his own imagination. The monsters that his books made famous are real, and Stine protects his readers by keeping them locked up in his books.

When Zach unintentionally unleashes the monsters from their manuscripts and they begin to terrorize the town, it’s suddenly up to Stine, Zach, and Hannah to get all of them back in the books where they belong.

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The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

"The Watcher in the Woods" DVD cover.

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In this spooky suspense film, an American family moves into a creepy manor house located in a wooded area. Before long, they start to see some odd things. The new tenants learn that 30 years ago, a teenage girl (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jan, a member of the family) disappeared nearby. Soon, the supernatural presence starts contacting the two young sisters in the family.

This movie is very scary! Definitely view this one first to decide if kids should watch, even though it received a PG rating. This movie is perfect for middle school kids who love high suspense and mild terror, especially of the supernatural variety.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

"Something Wicked This Way Comes" DVD cover.

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In this truly frightening "kid's horror" movie by Disney, a freak show and carnival arrive in a small Illinois town. The show is lead by the evil Mr. Dark. The town's citizens discover, to their surprise and delight, that Mr. Dark has the ability to grant wishes. However, the price of having a wish fulfilled is high: becoming a permanent member of Mr. Dark's traveling freak show. 

Again, despite the PG rating, it is recommended that you preview the film before allowing your child to watch, as it may be a bit frightening for younger audiences — especially if there is currently a carnival in town! Still, this classic stands the test of time and is a fun movie for the whole family to get into the Halloween mood. 

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The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It (2016)

"R.L. Stine's Haunting Hour" movie poster.

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Another movie based in the world of popular children's horror author R.L. Stine, "The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It" tells the spooky story of a girl who takes scaring people a little too far. When she finds a book that is capable of real magic, her courage in the face of a truly scary situation is put to the test.

The movie is rated PG for scary content and thematic elements. Stine's scary collections of short stories are generally aimed at kids about 9 to 12 years old, and the movie targets that age group as well.